Local Politics

Teachers group takes on Republican businessman

Posted April 1, 2011

— The North Carolina Association of Educators has called for a boycott of stores owned by Raleigh businessman Art Pope, saying he poses a threat to the state's public schools.

Pope, a former lawmaker, uses his personal fortune to fund conservative advocacy groups, such as the John Locke Foundation and Civitas Institute.

He maintains that he is a longtime supporter of public education.

"I support defending teachers in the classroom," he said Friday. "I've always been a positive constructive critic of the public schools."

He said he supports merit pay for teachers based on tough standards, more choice for parents by expanding charter schools and tax credits for families who bypass public schools for private schools or homeschooling.

"That is taxpayer money being transferred from the public schools to home schools – unaccountable home schools," said Brian Lewis, government relations manager for NCAE.

"He wants a fragmented public education system. He wants a system for the haves and the have-nots," Lewis said.

The association, which represents almost 60,000 teachers statewide, wants members and supports to boycott Pope-owned stores like Maxway and Rose's. Pope's Variety Wholesalers Inc. owns more than 400 discount stores across the Southeast.

Maxway store Teachers group takes on Republican businessman

"He sells goods from out of this country in poor communities, takes the profits (and) transfers them to advocacy groups that seem to be advocating for the dismantling of public education," Lewis said.

"That's completely false," Pope said, saying his stores provide low-cost shopping alternatives and that a boycott would threaten the jobs of his workers.

A recent YouTube video produced by NCAE slams Pope and others, including House Majority Leader Paul Stam and Wake County Board of Education Chairman Ron Margiotta, for what the group calls an attack on public education.

"It's personal, and it's political," Pope said of the NCAE stance. "Just because they've lost their Democratic Party majority in the General Assembly, they're now attacking Republican donors like me."

NCAE is trying to recruit the NAACP and other groups to join the boycott. Pope said he won't back down, touting what he calls a need for reform.

"I will not be intimidated. I will continue to do what I think is right," he said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • sbarry2 Apr 5, 2011

    "Unaccountable home schools"??? We submit nationally accepted test results annually. Maybe Mr. Lewis would accept a challenge. 20 random public schoolers vs 20 random homeschoolers in an academic challenge. Let's see how that turns out for his "accountability".

  • chivegas Apr 1, 2011

    "How do you hurt a right winger? Tell them the truth and then stop giving them money!"

    I think you meant left wing. They're the ones who need handouts.

  • Alex25 Apr 1, 2011

    art Pope is about you & freedom. not another Govt handout or more taxes. wake up.

  • Alex25 Apr 1, 2011

    Fully support Markets, Freedom, Lower taxes, Smaller Govt...and the Pope group.


  • geosol Apr 1, 2011

    How do you hurt a right winger? Tell them the truth and then stop giving them money!

  • Telman Apr 1, 2011

    Well said NC taxpayer.

  • NC Taxpayer Apr 1, 2011

    "That is taxpayer money being transferred from the public schools to home schools – unaccountable home schools," said Brian Lewis, government relations manager for NCAE.
    As a teacher, I can say the NCAE never was of much use years ago, and it isn't now, except in the case of lawsuits. The public schools need a complete overhaul, and if homeschoolers and private schools are a threat to public schools there is a reason for it. After years of teaching in public schools, I now teach in a private school. It takes less money to educate a child in a private school, and the money is used with responsibility and prudence. We continue to throw dollars into this pit, and until people are honest and admit that families are the most influential factor in the success of a child's education, this system is doomed to failure.

  • redapace Apr 1, 2011

    Nothing but junk in these stores anyway.

  • ttd Apr 1, 2011

    Been supporting the government schools with our property taxes and homeschooling for years. We'll keep homeschooling thank you. Rather pay the taxes than partake in a failed system. By the way Mr. Lewis, homeschoolers are accountable to the Dept of Non-Public education. Get you facts straight.

  • sm412000 Apr 1, 2011

    Republicans always want to lay blame on everyone else when it comes to this economic situation. They just want to forget about how we got here and blame the Democrats. Let me jog your memory: 8 years of bush + 2 wars costing billions per year + Bailouts from Bush's right hand man Henry Polston (Goldman Sach's ex CEO) + Vouchers and tax breaks for the rich = Recession and Trillions and Trillions of debt! Now they have control of the House...more of the same. Some people are so blind...they talk about austerity but when the question about taxing the rich is raised...no can do! That's why GE pays no taxes now...have not heard any outrage from the Right!